Panasonic Introduces Progressive-Scan 480p DVD Player

Last week, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company announced that it will release its first progressive-scan DVD player this October. The company says that the DVD-H1000 will deliver 480p images directly to a progressive-scan display at a retail price of $2999.95. According to Panasonic, the unit will feature composite, S-video, and component-video outputs, standard L/R audio outs, and 6-channel and optical digital audio outputs.

The interlaced scanning seen on most home-video systems is known as the NTSC standard, which projects each frame of the picture in alternating fields of 262.5 lines of picture information every 1/60th of a second. Progressive scanning transmits all 525 horizontal lines (480 of which are displayed) in the same amount of time. With double the number of lines, progressive scanning offers higher picture resolution and eliminates some motion artifacts, such as the jagged edges on moving objects that can be seen in some interlaced signals.

Panasonic says the DVD-H1000 can handle both progressive and interlaced outputs by converting film source signals to 480p using a built-in progressive video-processor chip from Genesis Microchip. The company reports that this chip uses vertical/temporal filtering and scaling algorithms to convert interlaced NTSC video for display on high-resolution, non-interlaced displays such as digital TVs, PC monitors, LCD TVs, and high-end video projectors.

Panasonic describes it as primarily a line-doubling IC, but the Genesis chip also provides the DVD-H1000 with real-time shrink and zoom, image-sharpening and anti-aliasing filters, gamma correction, on-chip color-space conversion, and something the company calls "advanced film mode," which is used to de-interlace video dubbed from a film source. A 4:3 shrink function is claimed to help retain the correct dimensions of a telecine (interlaced) 4:3 video transfer when displayed on a 16:9 screen.

According to Genesis Microchip's Peter Mandl, "We believe the progressive-scan output feature will become more popular and migrate to higher-volume DVD markets. We're currently seeing a trend where large-screen and other high-end TVs are utilizing non-interlaced displays, thereby increasing the need for DVD players that support progressive-scan output."

Panasonic also hopes that audiophiles will buy the player to play 24/96 audio discs because of its "8-block independent construction" layout. The company claims that by placing the drive assembly, audio circuit board, video circuit board, power-supply transformer, and other components in their own compartments, this design avoids mechanical and electrical interference, thereby preserving audio and video signal purity. The unit also features aluminum die-cast construction for rigidity and vibration control, as well as something the company calls "Virtual Battery Operation" technology, claimed to prevent AC power-supply noise from entering the audio circuitry.